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"We’re always happy to talk to anyone."
Date Published:
Ryan McMillan from Atlas Digital
Ryan McMillan

#003 Seb Cox: the Lowdown on Venture Studios

This week we caught up with Sebastian Cox, VP of Ventures at Paloma. Seb launched his career in the United Kingdom, holding various growth marketing and product roles in the venture studio scene. Seb went on to work as an advisor to some pre-launch & seed startups, plus enterprise scale digital transformation projects. At Paloma, Seb nurtures some of the most exciting startups in New Zealand and Australia, so he’s well attuned to turning the raw ingredients for a successful venture into an entity fit for growth.

Date Published:
Ryan McMillan from Atlas Digital
Ryan McMillan

Watch the highlights:

Here are some of our favourite snippets from our interview with Seb

In this week’s issue, Seb unpacks for us what it’s like working with a venture studio, his rules of thumb for deciding if an idea is worth pursuing, and some insider thoughts on creativity, team building, and capital raising.

The theme throughout Seb’s experiences is the line entrepreneurs must tread between pragmatic preparation and bold experimentation. For those who have deep expertise in a specific vertical but don’t identify as a founder, there are people in the world like Seb who can help bring your vision to life. Success is a matter of doing your homework, examining opportunities with many different lenses, gritting your teeth, and going for it. Oh, and don’t forget to have fun along the way.


In this week’s longform article, Seb covers a lot of ground. For current and aspiring founders, you will want to commit his lessons to your toolbox:

  • On ventures studios - They’re a home for non-technical founders and a career springboard for talented folks seeking cutting edge experiences. “When [founders] first come to us, if they have capital, we can start building something straight away. If they don't, we help them structure the company, write a pitch deck, advise them as to how they might go out to VCs or investors and get that company capitalised. And at the same time, we're figuring out what the first slice is that we're going to take to market.”
  • On ideation and execution - There’s no such thing as a bad idea, but ideas must be handled diligently. Seb credits thinking from innovators like Rowan Simpson, whose essay on nurturing ideas has influenced how he takes ideas to execution. “Don't be too harsh on ideas, initially, you have to kind of like, coddle them and let them come out and be discussed and talked about, and give them the time of day first. Before kind of flipping into a different mode, which then is being very Spartan with those ideas and treating them very harshly and deciding whether those ideas can stand alone by themselves.”
  • On creativity - Make every play an impact play. “With early stage startups, like every decision that you make, is potentially existential. The squeeze has to be worth the juice. If it's a day of development time to do that thing, you know, just grow it and ship it. But if it's going to be three months to do it, you better have done your preparation, and you really have high conviction that the thing you're doing is going to have an impact.”
  • On team building - Embrace hard work. Make it fun and go further together. “We need to have a good time. We need to get along. Because if you don't get along, even in the good times, when you're going through all these challenges of building your company, then it's going to be much harder.”
  • On building a company - Know your reason for being, game plan your capital raising, the #1 rule is timing. “If you have just launched, and you don't have that traction yet, it's very difficult to tell that story of traction or tell that story of the dream because you're stuck in this sort of no man's land. [Investors] will always be like, cool - come back in six or 12 months or whatever, when you've got enough traction. And that's a very difficult position to be in. Because if you're raising at that point, you probably need the money for it. And you don't necessarily have that runway to keep going on and get that next milestone. So you need to sort of avoid being stuck between those two things.”


Learn from Seb’s takes on building great companies by watching the full interview.


The trends we're noticing at Atlas Digital:

  • Goodbye Search, Hello Friends: 51% of Gen Zers prefer TikTok for search over Google according to a recent study. The eye opening study shines a light on the changing search dynamics. Read Ryan’s take on how it’s not AI but social media disrupting search engines right now.
  • Alphabet eyeing Hubspot acquisition: While the acquisition is largely pegged as a potential foray into the marketing cloud, we believe it will also provide a solution for Alphabet’s loss of cookies from 3rd party websites. As 3rd party data becomes obsolete, Alphabet must look for new ways to leverage data for their marketing business. Hubspot directly obtains data from users who willingly engage with their service, providing access to powerful data that would increase personalisation and targeting capabilities.

Tech Spotlight: Celebrating Cecilia Robinson

“We want New Zealanders to be the healthiest people in the world.” As the Founder & Co-CEO of Tend, Cecilia’s purpose is clear: Tend is revolutionising healthcare for everyday people.

Her impact was recognised last month at the Kiwibank New Zealander of the Year Awards, where she won the Spark Innovator of the Year. This award celebrates innovators disrupting the status quo, whose inventions and ambitions are building towards a better tomorrow.

Cecilia extended the award to the entire Tend team, recognising that innovation doesn't happen in isolation, it is a reflection of all of our combined mahitahi. 

Founder and co-CEO of Tend, Cecilia Robinson

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